Enjoy Your Tea!
With the onset of cool rainy weather, I have been enjoying hot drinks as a warm up and for comfort.
Along with water and the occasional de-caffeinated organic coffee, I have been drinking a lot of tea. The teas I have been enjoying most regularly lately are Tulsi (aka Holy Basil), Rooibos, black and green tea. These teas all have distinct flavors, aromas and health benefits.
Green, black, white and oolong teas all come from the same plant, a warm-weather-loving evergreen named Camilla sinensis. The leaves can be processed differently to yield the desired type of tea.
Leaves destined to be black tea are fully fermented, resulting in a darker, stronger-tasting brew. Oolong tea leaves are only partially fermented and impart a lighter color and flavor. Green tea leaves are pan-fried and then dried and are not fermented at all, resulting in a pale yellow-green color and delicate flavor.
Made from immature tea leaves, white tea is minimally processed. White tea buds have a silvery fuzz that turns white when the leaves are dried, hence their descriptive name.
The exciting part is that all of the green and white teas are loaded with anti-oxidant polyphenols called catachins. One particular catachin, Epigallocatachin gallate (EGCG) is the key to tea's anti-cancer benefits. So popular is this particular constituent, it is also available in pill form at health food stores. To avoid a bitter tasting brew, steep your green tea gently for only a couple of minutes and then enjoy.
The National Cancer Institute has produced several studies of green tea's anti-cancer benefits. Their 1994 study found that green tea contributed to a 60 percent reduction of esophageal cancer, because the catachins reduced the reproduction of cancer cells.
Animal and human studies have shown that green tea also helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels, lowers blood sugar and stimulates metabolism, resulting in weight loss.
Although the fermentation process destroys the EGCG in black and oolong teas, we now know that there is another class of anti-oxidant polyphenols that includes biflavanols, thearubigans and theaflavins.
A 2001 report in the Journal of Nutrition described the anti-oxidant benefits of the black tea's theaflavins as being equal to green tea's EGCG benefits. The study indicated that men who drank four cups of black tea a day had a reduced risk of stroke, compared to men who only drank two the three cups daily.
I enjoy my black tea in the form of Earl Grey (which is flavored with bergamot) and a touch of heavy cream.
Other studies indicate that, in addition to reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack, black tea helps lower cholesterol as well as including constituents that are supportive for weight loss and helpful with depression and anxiety.
Rooibos is one of my favorite caffeine-free, healthy beverage s. This tea of African origin is smooth flavored, rich in anti-oxidants and is also free of astringent tannins. Rooibos also contains, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and other important minerals. Rooibos tea's rich red color is due to its unique fermentation process. Because it is caffeine free, it is great for all ages and is appropriate for all times of the day and night. My favorite way to enjoy Rooibos is with a dash of vanilla and a dollop of heavy cream.
Another caffeine free tea choice, Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, is a favorite in India. Many revere this flavorful herb for its health-supporting properties.
Tulsi has been found to be effective in treating cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, stress, wounds, inflammations, hypoglycemic conditions, ulcers, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, cataracts, memory problems, urinary problems, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions. An antioxidant, it also supports the immune system, liver, digestion and respiratory system.
I prefer when possible to use loose teas because they are less processed and impart a richer flavor than tea bags. With teas' many benefits, I hope that you will be curious about teas and try them yourself.
We all have many choices to make as we eat and drink our way through life. The more variety in food and drink, the healthier we will be.
For additional information about the health benefits of teas, feel free to contact me.
Yaakov Levine, NTP
About the Author:
Born and raised in the New York area, Yaakov has made his home in Oregon since 1998. He brings his passion for healthy nutrition and herbal medicine to his practice as a Nutritional Therapist and Herbalist.
Yaakov is an avid researcher and writer. He has a regular column in the Creswell Chronicle, and writes for the NTA Newsletter. He has been involved in the natural products industry for many years as a retailer, manufacturer, and educator. Yaakov has participated in the Breitenbush Herbal Conference since 1997 and is now a conference organizer, and has staffed the NW HerbFest since it’s inception in 2005.
In 2007 he received his certification as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. Yaakov is currently practicing as a Nutritional Therapist/Herbalist and is the Assistant Instructor for the NTP training class in Eugene, OR.
He can be reached at (541) 895-2427 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional Training: Medical Herbalism, Homeopathy and Flower Essences therapies.
Yaakov’s newspaper column link:
The statements and products shown on this website have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. The opinions expressed here belong solely to the author and are not necessarily those of NTPtalk.com.